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Parenting a Child with ADHD

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that bringing up a child with ADHD is a huge challenge. I’m not here to teach you how to be a good parent; but rather to tell you how to be ‘positive’. Positive parenting has helped countless families to achieve greater harmony in the home, and this approach is especially important for parents raising a child with ADHD.

A recent study in Japan looked at the effects of punishment on the behaviour of children with ADHD and compared it to neurotypicals. The findings revealed that punishment exerted greater control over the behaviour of children with ADHD, regardless of their cultural background.

This suggests that children with ADHD are more sensitive to the use of punishments than non-ADHDers.

This is no surprise given how delicate our sensitivities are. It’s far more effective to apply positive energy focussing on praise and reward.

It’s easier said than done, but if done consistently, this shift can be life changing. Consider some of these ideas that will help you to create a positive and happier home life for you and your child.

Encouraging Positive Behaviour:

Prevention is more effective than discipline. Create conditions that make it easier for your child to use their strengths and follow house rules.

  1. Understand ADHD. Your child may be highly creative and energetic. On the other hand, they probably struggle with some things like listening attentively and planning ahead.

  2. Set aside ‘special time’. Your child is less likely to act out if they feel secure and loved. This is difficult, because children with ADHD find it hard to ask for this. Try to arrange at least fifteen minutes a day when you do some bonding together. It could be your bedtime rituals, chatting, or playing games after school.

  3. Offer rewards. Give your child an extra incentive to comply with your expectations. Offer praise or small treats when they complete their homework and cooperate with their siblings. If they have trouble waiting a week or more to get their prize, let them earn points throughout the day.

  4. Be specific. Make it easier for your child to do what you want by spelling out each step involved. Instead of asking them to clean their room, ask them to pick their toys up off the floor and put their clothes in a laundry basket.

  5. Use visuals and sounds. Many children with ADHD understand images and sounds better than words. Clarify your instructions with other cues. Set a timer that will buzz when homework time is up. Put a poster up in the bathroom with pictures of a child brushing their teeth and putting on pyjamas.

Maintaining Effective Discipline:

Of course, there will sometimes be lapses. Be prepared to discipline in a way that works better than nagging or criticizing.

  1. Focus on learning. Discipline means training rather than punishment. When your child slips up, show them what they need to do in order to succeed the next time.

  2. Limit time outs. Sitting completely still may be overwhelming for some children with ADHD. If you use time outs, keep them brief, and consider giving them credit if they manage to keep their mouths shut.

  3. Establish priorities. Trying to resolve too many issues at once can backfire. Deal with one subject at a time. Give your child a chance to fix one situation before moving on to the next.

  4. Stay calm. As revealed in the study above, children with ADHD are even more sensitive than the average child when it comes to being influenced by a parent’s mood. If you can remain composed even when your child hits a classmate or keeps losing their glasses, you’ll be in a better position to work together towards lasting solutions.

Parenting a child with ADHD is similar to parenting any child, but it usually requires more effort and patience. Above all, it requires an understanding of the condition. You and your child can have a loving relationship if you believe in their abilities and understand their needs. Stay positive and reach out for the support you need.


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